Thursday, January 20, 2022

Turning 50...birthday fantasies in a pandemic

My birthday is 12 days away. My birthday is a big deal to me. I realized recently (yesterday in fact) that a big part of why is that it is the one day of the year that I felt safe acknowledging my existence.  You don't get called selfish on your birthday, in fact you are expected to celebrate yourself. The other 364 days of the year it never felt safe to do that (yay trauma). 

I have had more than a few imaginings about what I wanted to do for my 50th birthday, but it basically came down to two - a big surprise party (because I've always wanted one), or a long weekend away with friends. Two years ago when the pandemic began these imaginings were still possibilities...they are now fantasies.

I'm not sure why I'm sharing them. Maybe it's like most things I write about; I just need to get it out of my head so I'll stop obsessing over the loss.

Fantasy 1: The Party

I'm invited to go to dinner with a friend. They pick me up at the designated time, 5:30 pm because our reservations are for 6:00 pm, which seems a bit early but I don't mind. I'm excited to see them after having been apart for so long due to the pandemic. We chat in the car, probably talking about how good it feels to finally be able to gather together safely.  We have a lovely dinner and head back to my place. 

My friends mentions that they should have used the restroom before leaving the restaurant but didn't, so can they use mine?

Of course I say yes. 

We park and walk to the house.  I let us in and as I enter the kitchen there is a big shout of SURPRISE! It takes a moment for what happens to register and then I start crying (because I know I'd cry). As many of my friends as can cram into my apartment are there. 

By the end of the night my face hurts from smiling. It goes down in my memories as one of the best birthdays ever. 

Fantasy 2: The Cabin

It's my 50th and I want to go big. There is this place by a lake near Otisfield that a friend of mine rented for her wedding.  It's a mansion really. It sleeps 24 people, has a HUGE amazing kitchen, a game room, and even a popcorn machine in the mini movie theater. 

I ask friends if they'd like to rent this place with me for a long weekend for my birthday. Somehow everyone gets organized, and is willing to commit to the date. We gather the funds together, reserve the place (probably six months in advance) and make plans. 

My sweetie picks me up on a Thursday morning. I arrive to find that no one else has arrived but there is a note next to a bottle of prosecco and two champagne flutes saying, "Happy birthday! We all thought you'd love a night alone with your sweetie so we are coming tomorrow." 

We spend the evening eating wonderful food, soaking in the hot tub, and watching movies.  We go for a winter hike the next day and when we return everyone is arriving. 

We have a HUGE dinner that we all cook together. There is a Humphrey Bogart mini movie festival planned, as well as a BBQ (because winter BBQ is awesome), and plenty of time sitting around the fireplace with the people I love. 


I am making plans to celebrate as best I can under the circumstances. My birthday is on a Tuesday, so my sweetie and I will likely be renting a hotel room the weekend before; somewhere that has a view. 

There won't be a party with lots of people, but there will be a birthday cake and we will get fancy takeout from somewhere. There will probably be prosecco and at least one Humphrey Bogart movie. If the weather cooperates there will likely be a winter walk too. 

On that Tuesday, my friends will send their happy birthday wishes via text (though honestly I'd love to get birthday cards but no one does that anymore) instead of wishing me so in person at a party

Perhaps I'll have a party in July, when it can be done outside safely. Or maybe I'll just save it all for some odd birthday year and I'll turn 50 at 55 or something. 

This is so what they call a "first world problem" and I know the sense of loss I'm feeling is bigger than my birthday. It's for everything that has been disrupted and lost. 

And there has just been so much.

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